A senior administration official told CNN on Sunday that the passage of what is believed to be three Chinese spy balloons over the continental United States during the time of the Trump administration was not identified until after President Joe Biden took office.
The official did not elaborate on how or when those occurrences were found out about.
The official stated that the intelligence community is prepared to offer briefings to key officials in the Trump administration about the Chinese surveillance program, which the Obama administration believes has been deployed in countries across all five continents over the course of the last several years. According to the official, the intelligence community is prepared to offer briefings.
Following the revelation made by the administration of former Vice President Joe Biden a week ago that what was believed to be a Chinese spy balloon was seen flying over the state of Montana, the Pentagon stated that similar incidents involving balloons had occurred during the administration of former President Donald Trump. Mark Esper, who served as Defense Secretary under the Trump administration and is now a former member of that government, gave an interview to CNN on Friday and said he was “surprised” by the statement.
“I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States,” he said.
This week, former President Donald Trump stated on Truth Social that stories of Chinese balloons flying over the United States when he was in office were “false disinformation.”
According to the individual who worked under the Biden administration, the occurrences were only found out about after the Trump administration had already left office. However, the official did not elaborate on when or how such occurrences were found out about.
According to a report that was published by CNN on Sunday, the Pentagon is said to have briefed Congress about prior Chinese surveillance balloons that sailed near Texas and Florida while the Trump administration was in office.
Rep. Michael Waltz issued a statement to CNN in which he stated that “currently, we understand there were incursions near Florida and Texas, but we don’t have clarity on what kind of systems were on these balloons or if these incursions occurred in territorial waters or overflew land.”
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According to the senior administration official, another Chinese spy balloon made a brief passage into the continental United States at the beginning of the administration of Vice President Joe Biden. However, according to the officials, the balloon that was shot down by the United States military on Saturday was one of a kind because of the path it took, which was down from Alaska and Canada into the United States, as well as the length of time it spent loitering over sensitive missile sites in Montana.
In relation to the balloon that was shot down on Saturday, the senior administration official stated that the investigation into the capabilities of the balloon is still ongoing. However, the official continued, “closely observing the balloon in flight has allowed us to better understand this Chinese program and further confirmed its mission was surveillance.”
After the balloon was spotted for the first time on January 28 over Alaska, Republicans have criticized the administration of Vice President Joe Biden for not shooting the balloon down earlier. CNN reported on Sunday that Republicans in the House of Representatives are considering whether or not to draft a resolution this week that would censure the Biden administration for its handling of the balloon.
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